Acoustic prepulse inhibition in male and female prairie voles: Implications for models of neuropsychiatric illness

Carolyn E. Jones, Tom M. Navis, Peyton Teutsch, Ryan A. Opel, Miranda M. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sensory gating, the ability to suppress sensory information of irrelevant stimuli, is affected in several neuropsychiatric diseases, notably schizophrenia and autism. It is currently unclear how these deficits interact with other hallmark symptoms of these disorders, such as social withdrawal and difficulty with interpersonal relationships. The highly affiliative prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) may be an ideal model organism to study the neurobiology underlying social behavior. In this study, we assessed unimodal acoustic sensory gating in male and female prairie voles using the prepulse inhibition (PPI) paradigm, whereby a lower amplitude sound (prepulse) decreases the startle response to a high amplitude sound (pulse) compared to the high amplitude sound alone. Prairie voles showed evidence of PPI at all prepulse levels compared to pulse alone, with both males and females showing similar levels of inhibition. However, unlike what has been reported in other rodent species, prairie voles did not show a within-session decrease in startle response to the pulse alone, nor did they show a decrease in startle response to the pulse over multiple days, highlighting their inability to habituate to startling stimuli (short- and long-term). When contrasted with a cohort of male wildtype C57Bl/6J mice that underwent a comparable PPI protocol, individual voles showed significantly higher trial-by-trial variability as well as longer latency to startle than mice. The benefits and caveats to using prairie voles in future sensory gating experiments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-302
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019


  • Acoustic startle
  • Autism
  • Comparative neuroscience
  • Habituation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensory gating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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